12 Mar Helping your child answer questions
As parents we want to know what is happening in our child’s life…
who did they play with?
what did they learn at school?
what are the things they love?
why do they dislike certain things?
Our child’s ability to answer questions is fundamental to these conversations.
Many children confuse the vocabulary (who/what/when/where) surrounding questions answering with the wrong information such as “where did you play today?” “I played with Maddie” (a who response).
This can cause a breakdown in communication and means it is harder to get information from our kids about what’s happening in their life.
In this blog we will provide some strategies and activities to help kids accurately answer questions.
Types of Questions
There are many different types of questions and ways to phrase these questions, some more complex than others. We will focus on the common and key question words used in conversation with our kids.
Who, what, when, where, why and how?
Using a visual to explain the ‘wh’ question words and the information they relate to can be a good starting point.
Using key word signs paired with the question word can also help kids to understand question types.
#1 Asking too many questions…
As parents it can be easy to let questions dominate our conversations with our kids. Sometimes this has the opposite effect to our aim and kids just shut down or give brief one word answers. It’s important to break up questions by making your own natural comments during the conversation. So you might share something about your day “I went to the shops today” and then ask your child “What did you do?”
#2 Changing the question word…
If our child is not responding at all or providing the wrong type of information we often rephrase our question changing the “wh” word. For example:
Parent: “why don’t you like swimming lessons?”
Parent: “what is it about swimming you don’t like?”
Although this strategy often works and is definitely a natural way of prompting your child it isn’t teaching them how to respond to the original “why” question word.
Instead try to talk through the “why” offering different prompts such as “because…?” “is it the teacher or you don’t like putting your head under.” Then go back to the original question and help your child answer it again.
#3 Asking abstract questions
If your child is having trouble answering questions like “what did you do today?” then you may need to pare it back and ask questions that are in the here and now such as “what are you doing?.” Here and now questions are easier for children to answer. If you want to work on retell type questions sone visuals might really help provide additional prompting for your child. Check out our visuals here
Tips to help your child answer questions
Some of the tips we have talked about to help your child with ‘wh’ questions are:
- Use a visual to teach the ‘wh’ word types
- Keep the question word the same and offer prompts such as giving 2 options
- Use visuals to help children answer retell questions
- Focus on here and now questions
Here are some of our favourite activities to help your child learn to answer ‘wh’ questions.
Where is the green sheep?
Any of your child’s favourite picture books
Read more about using books to build your child’s language
If you sit with your child to make iPad time interactive you can engage in ‘wh’ questions using your child’s favourite apps.
Here are a few others that we like to use.
Toca Kitchen Monsters
Easy at home games
Play Guess Who?
Create a feely bag to take turns guessing items
Using shopping catalogues
Using TV shows; pause the show to ask intermittent “wh” questions and make comments
Need more help?
If your child is struggling with answering questions and engaging in conversation with you, our team of Speech Pathologist’s are here to help.